tv The Communicators CSPAN December 15, 2012 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
and senate, including senator direct -- dick lugar and lynn woolsey. >> as president obama begins his second term in office, what is the most important thing for him to consider? >> if you are in greats 6 through 12, you can enter. >> $50,000 in total prizes. >> for more information, go to studentcam.org. >> welcome to "communicators." helping to kick off the series is the former senator of the state of oregon, gordon smith. >> good to be back.
>> senator smith, could you start by talking to us about how people watch television in the current day as, say, opposed to a few years ago? >> broadcasting is affected by that. we remain highly relevant because what we do is local, and as to those who want to get it the old-fashioned way, it is free, and yet, you have satellite, you have cable, and now you have the internet, through hulu or netflix, which are other ways to access television, so television remains highly relevant to the future. when you look at the top 100 programs that are watched, 90 of them are broadcast, -- content. i think the future is bright, indeed.
-- 90 of them are broadcast content. we are a mobile society, and so the challenge is to make sure that we are on pads, computers, phones, as well as traditional viewing, now with a wonderful high-definition television screen. the other challenge we have is that spectrum is a finite resource, and others want that resource, and there is not enough spectrum in the resources to do all video by broadband, so the architecture in the location, versus theirs, which is one-to-one, there is just the congestion of transmitting video one to one, and we are in
a highly regulated industry. when you compare the regulatory burden that broadcasters have versus cable or satellite, or, obviously, the internet or the telephone companies, we are the regulated one. we ear are licenses every day but all that we offer -- we earn our licenses every day with all that we offer. these are all things that the public is able to take for granted upon which they are very reliant, and i think appreciative when they recognize, ok, this is broadcast. this is live. this is local. this is free. this is important. >> important steps you have to take going forward?
>> obviously, we are in uncharted territory with the fcc would be spectrum auction -- with the spectrum auction. they have not done it this way before, and i think i can say with real confidence that none of the big networks are going to be volunteering to go out of business. i do not have a clue as to how many broadcasters who are on the edge financially will say, "we will take the money and go out of business." those that stay, we want them to be held harmless, and they do have those kinds of protections. >> even if it goes to other platforms and on demand? >> for broadcasting, that spectrum, we need it, because we
need elbow room, notwithstanding all of the regulatory environment that we operate in. i wish you could go with me to some labs in tokyo and see the incredible technological developments occurring in broadcast television. i am not just talking about 4k. i am talking about 8k and television experiences of the future that people are going to want and that they are going to love. our space, our elbow room, our future -- it looks very bright, indeed. >> centre smith, pretend you were to wake up 20 years from today -- senator smith, pretend you were to wake up 20 years from today. some people are even questioning whether it will even exist.
>> it has to exist because there is not enough spectrum to do video on a broadband basis. if you start downloading all of your television viewing, it will fail you, so our architecture in the end, plus that it is free, and it is local, that is something that cable, which is taped or time delayed, or satellite -- it is not a local focus. it is not free. it is something you pay for, and it is something in the end, you know, something like sports -- i think it is important that broadcasters continue to be the primary focus of sports communications, because you cannot do it by broadband. the architecture will fail, and
so i see that and the fact that it is local and the fact that it is live are the enduring strength of broadcast. >> there is a lot of talk. maybe looking to the federal government to turn over more of the spectrum that they have. you are still saying there is not enough bandwidth? >> the government, through the military -- they have half of the spectrum that is out there. particularly the united states military. they do not want to give it up. ultimately though, there are opportunities there that there are not in the private sector. radio was first invented and
then television. we have half of what the telephone companies have with the spectrum that we have. we are anxious to keep it because that is your lifeblood. that is your seed corn. if you lose your license, it means you do not have a future. what we have seen with sandy, the hurricane, when all of the broadband networks failed, radio -- if they have got electricity or can get it on a mobile device, they can see this live, and sometimes the information transmitted can be a matter of life and death. >> do you think if not enough broadcasters come forward to offer spectrum, the industry will look to congress to put in place something mandatory to force may be some smaller
broadcasters to get out of the game, open up more spectrum? >> we have to be prepared for that. i think it is certainly a possibility, but at the end of the day, i think the world of tomorrow has to be a future of broadcast and broadband, and if it is just one, it will fail the american people, and if it is just one, all of the other public values, decency, localism, like free, that goes away. for example, your sports team, your university, if they were in a bowl game that you wanted to watch that was not broadcast, then you had better have the right cable subscription in be paying your bill, or you would not watch the game -- and paying your bill, or you will not be watching the game. >> the third quarter of 2011,
down from 6.2 5 million homes -- down from 6.25 million homes. >> we think the number of broadcast-only homes is something like 17 million homes, and when you look at second and third televisions, usually people do not want to be paying for two cable bills, so they will have a satellite or a cable television in the living room, but where they shave or in the kitchen, they will have a broadcast television. to 17just limit it million. you extrapolate that, it is probably approaching 50 million americans that are depending on it, and those tend to be more of our minority communities, the economically underprivileged, often the elderly, and increasingly the young techies.
all of the new offerings of broadcasting. they say, "i do not have time to watch more than that," and "i will get on hulu," or netflix, or something like that. the accord cutting phenomenon is a real one. -- the cord-cutting phenomenon is a real one. they cannot succeed without broadcast content. they are increasingly willing to pay for the content, without which they cannot sell a television subscription. >> can a network live on cable and not have to broadcast over the air? >> they are not trying to.
they want to be over the air, and that is why there are so many of and operated stations that are owned by cbs or abc -- there -- that is why there are so many owned and operated stations that are owned by cbs or abc. they can go hyper local. you are seeing a 6 mhz license. you are seeing a lot in the minority community finding niche markets. you are fighting for and language, religious broadcasters, full-time sports -- you are finding foreign language, religious broadcasters, full-time sports -- >> how complicated do you see the process being?
>> i see is hugely complicated. -- see it hugely complicated. we want to be cooperative. if a broadcaster wants to go out of business and cash in a, that is called freedom, and we support that -- go out of business and cash in, that is called freedom, and we support that. the problem in all of this calculation is that this is an urban problem. this is not a world problem -- not a rural program. the ones who do not want to go out of business will not volunteer. where you get people to volunteer tend to be in the flyover states, and they do not need this spectrum. it will be a whole new exercise,
and we will be cooperative, as long as it is transparent, as long as they hold harmless those who stay. we want to stay on the air. there are a lot of people who count on us, whether they get it over the air or coming in or bouncing off of a satellite. >> they say they want to move rapidly towards holding incentive options. -- auctions. there is a concern it will not be done right. can you elaborate more on the concerns? >> how many at this price would volunteer to go out of business? and they will seek to raise their hands, and then they will say to the buying community -- and they will see who raises their hands, and then they will say to the buying community, "
who will buy?" and they will try to come up with a patchwork model that clears a band for them. a lot of towers will have to be moved as part of the repackaging of television stations, and if this is not done correctly, you know,the dtv went from analog to digital -- that will look like a sunday school class compared to this, and millions will be disenfranchised if this is not done properly. again, we are on an uncharted territory. we know the goal of the fcc, and we will be cooperative. >> our guest serves as the president and ceo, and also joining us, a reporter.
i can watch shows on a network and then go and watch a multitude of other shows. facing competition on not only that front on other fronts. >> notwithstanding the proliferation of all of these channels, again, i go back to what are people watching, and it is the high quality of broadcast content needs them coming back to broadcast channels. they may not even know they are on a broadcast channel, but that is what they are watching. 90 out of the 100 of our broadcast. the content will be high, and that will draw ears and eyeballs. >> broadcast tv is regulated
differently, when it comes to cable? >> absolutely. today, all you have to do is hit the wrong channel, and you will have all of the garbage in the world coming into your house, so people have to be very careful about channel surfing, but if they are on a broadcast channel, there are community standards of decency, which we have to observe. parents ought to be mindful when it comes to the television [laughter] viewing of the family. -- parents ought to be mindful when it comes to television viewing of the family. there ought to be someplace for the family to turn that observes localism, provides it for free to the viewer, and that does
have respect for community standards. we are not perfect. there is an expletive here or there, a wardrobe malfunction, but we have technology that allows us to a time delay -- to time delay. i think, ultimately, that serves the american people. >> there has been a lot of talk from n.a.b., about moving towards multitasking. you mentioned this briefly before. how successful has this been thus far, and in mobile, in particular, it has taken awhile for the devices to be developed, and why is that? >> on the market now is what is
called a dongle. you plug that in, and you get to watch it. i am absolutely confident we will be with this and other things that are coming along with mobil, -- mobile, and i think technology in the future will be interactive with one another, and it has taken awhile for mobile, but we want to be on the phone, on the ipad. >> as more tablets are being sold to >> it is just information.
you have to leave the game -- that is the future, and we recognize that, and we are going to be participating. >> what does it mean for the future? >> jews want their video live, or do they want it -- do people want their video live, or do they want it when they want it? some things you want to watch live. >> and since the broadcast
community depends on advertisers, how do you capitalize on that? >> that is a real challenge. cbs has told dish network, "we are not going to continue to do business with you if you provide that, because we will have to charge you all whole lot more to make up for the loss of advertising -- charge you a whole lot more to make up for the loss of advertising." as long as we have revenue, those get reinvested in the best content. >> it seems apparent that we have really come to a situation where it seems to many observers where we have broadcast going up against the wireless industry is reaching industries -- going up against
the wireless industries. these continuing battles, discussions, regarding spectrum and its usage, how is n.a.b. position to do battle with wireless industry over these issues -- how is n.a.b. positioned to do battle? >> having been a lawmaker myself, i can tell you i knew i could put up a table ad, but i had to run it for one month before anybody saw it with consistency. i could put up an internet ad, and maybe 1000 people would see it, if i am lucky, but if i want to move numbers and communicate
overnight, where do i put my money? i put it on broadcast television, because that is where the eyeballs are. >> certainly, there seems to be a growing feeling -- you know, the importance of broadband, the importance of wireless, that this is the future of, you know, communications -- they are certainly pressing that we need to give the head of the rest of the world -- to get ahead of the rest of the world. are you facing headwinds? >> satellite, cable, or over the internet, tell me what about -- is local?
this does not mean they want it to the exclusion of localism. the bbc, which is all of the news you can get in britain. we have something pretty special. why would we want to destroy that, just so those companies can take over more of what broadcasting does? would they observe decency standards? would they do it for a much lower price? free? they are not going to do that, so when it comes to a lawmaker, and he or she is going to say to
themselves, "do they still serve as a viable public interest -- serve a viable public interest?" i like that the underprivileged in our society can have it for free, and i like the fact that broadcasting is make an effort to include all of the diversity in america, so you hve niche -- you have niche programming to the african american community, and telemundo has done a lot for the hispanic community. i think they understand that broadcasting does things for the american people that our constituents that these other telecommunications devices do not do and certainly are not regulated to do, but if you are
going to get rid of broadcasting, what about all of the public policies that are served? are those not viable still? i think the answer is yes. >> -- >> we are the ones they regulate. if you get rid of us, you get rid of much of their purpose. they listen to us. we listen to them. there is a healthy tension that exists between an industry and its regulator. we value our industry because we think the american people do, and, therefore, the fcc does, as well. >> over-the-top -- >> not that i know of. they have to be fair to all. i think our industry and not those other industries serve all of the public values that i have just spoken of. >> are the regulatory issues
that you would ask the fcc about -- our their regulatory issues? -- are there regulatory issues that you would ask the fcc about? >> preserving legitimate journalism. i think they are looking at some loosening of the ownership rules so that a newspaper, a television station can pool their capital to preserve good journalism, and that is a real threat. if we have to look to the internet for our news, a lot of people scratching their heads and wonder about its sufficiency, its credibility, and good reporting is certainly done at newspapers, and i think at television stations, i think
importantly, and i think the ownership restrictions, if they were loose and to the degree -- to a degree would allow -- if they were innocent -- lucent -- loosened to a degree -- >> channels -- >> i believe broadcasters, because of their architecture, because of the values they serve, because it is free, and because it is local, we are a survivor. when television came along, everybody said that radio was going to win. we are still alive and well in
both radio and television. we have an architecture in a niche that is very important, obviously capturing the eyeballs of the american people. >> what is job number one going ahead for you? >> channels that are not interfered with, in sufficient volume, that we can innovate into the future and provide remarkable new television experiences, which are not in the near horizon but are here. it has got depth of field and a clarity of picture. it is not even 4k. it is 8